Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday disputed the widely held perception that the GOP struggles to attract the support of female voters, suggesting instead his party has a problem with only a certain kind of female voter.
"There's a little bit of a laziness on the part of the people who want to claim the Republican Party has some kind of women problem," said Priebus, speaking at the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast. "We basically have a single women problem under 35 issue."
The real question, the chairman said, was why Democrats struggled to appeal to so many other groups of women.
"Why does the Democratic Party have so many problems in their engagement with married women, or women with children?" he asked.
The gender gap was a well-documented problem for the party during the 2012 presidential election, when President Obama's campaign accused Republicans of waging a "war on women" to bring up the GOP's positions on contraception access or abortion. In the aftermath of that race, many Republican strategists emphasized the need for the party to improve its outreach to a voting bloc that constituted 53 percent of the vote in 2012.
The chairman's remarks carry some validity: Among some female voters, the party did well. Mitt Romney 56 percent of all white women, according to exit polls, and 53 percent of married women of all races.
But Romney still only carried 44 percent of the total female vote, in large part because of the party's deep struggles with minority women. Ninety-six percent of black women and 76 percent of Latino women voted for Obama—both shares were higher than their male counterparts. And while the GOP does well among married women, it struggled far worse with unmarried women, just 31 percent of whom backed the GOP presidential nominee.
For the midterm elections, Priebus said he expected Obamacare would help the party perform far better with women.
This article appears in the March 19, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.